It’s now been 13 months since Andrej Sekera tore his ACL during game five of the 2017 playoffs when he-man Ryan Getzlaf crashed him into the boards.
The hit was innocuous seemingly just a routine finishing of a check.
Sekera went on to miss a large chunk of the Oilers past season and ended up getting shut down with two games left in the season having only played 36 games for the team.
Reg — as he is called by his teammates — wasn’t quite himself last season. At 32 years old, he never looked comfortable on the ice when he returned to the team in December. His mobility was choppy at best, and he was a clear step behind everyone else.
No matter for how long, anytime a player misses the start of a season with any injury they are at a significant disadvantage. They’re to play catch up against players who — like in Sekera’s case — have months of hockey already under their belt.
When the Oilers signed Sekera to a six-year, $33-million contract in 2015, he was expected to come in and help solidify the team’s defence.
He did just that in years one and two putting up 65 points in 161 games. His relative Corsi was 2.26 per cent higher than of his teammates and his expected goals for relative to his team was 4.54 per cent.
This past year those numbers dipped to 1.53 per cent and a brutal -4.15 per cent .
Sekera admitted to Jason Gregor in February that he felt limited in what he could do.
“It is frustrating. It is part of the game, but it takes time to heal. I’m just trying to do what I can to make sure it feels normal, but it takes time. Right now I’m just trying to play my best with what I have.
“…the mobility (in his knee) is not what it was, so I’m trying to come up with some other movements. When I turn one way it doesn’t react how I’m used to. I need to finish the season strong, have a good summer workout so I don’t have to have the brace, which is limiting me,” Sekera said.
He needed to wear the aforementioned brace to cut the chances of re-injury which didn’t seem to work given his re-injury at the end of the year.
Things went from good, to bad for the Slovakian defender and his year ended with him suffering an injury to his surgically repaired knee.
What’s left in the tank?
Sekera won’t get better any time soon. All players regress with age and they start to see a significant drop in play after age 32.
He has three years left on his deal and has one more year with a full no-movement clause. In his last two years, he will give a list of 15-teams that he can be traded to.
A player with a $5.5-million cap hit should be able to play good, top-four minutes. Sekera needs to be a top-four defenceman for the Oilers and the end of the year saw him struggling with soft, third-pair assignments.
Will he get back to it? Time will tell.
Sekera needs a good summer to fully recover and get that knee back to whatever his 100 per cent will be moving forward.
However, I’m not going to bank on him being the player he was in years one and two of the deal.